Since its release in 2021, few dystopian thrillers have been more successful than Squid Game.
This TV show took the world by storm and is a standout example of South Korean television breaking into the western mainstream.
The story follows a secret contest where 456 players risk their lives and compete for a massive prize pool.
As the games continue, the players are forced to engage in increasingly deadly children’s games that test their very humanity.
Although Squid Game is a novel concept, many people have drawn parallels to some of the novels that have inspired it.
Squid Game is the newest entry in a rich tradition of dystopian novels that combine games, game shows, and trials with totalitarian governments and secret plots.
If you enjoyed Squid Game on Netflix, then you should check out our list of 5 dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, Battle Royale, Maze Runner, All Of Us Villains, and The Long Walk.
Themes In Squid Game
A main theme of Squid Game is the idea of dystopia. The story draws parallels between several prominent systems of government, including capitalism.
This is a common theme throughout much visionary literature, and throughout the story, we see how these ideas connect with the characters of the story.
Another key theme of Squid Game is wealth and how this can cause people to do things they might not normally do.
The prize pool of the secret contest draws many people from all walks of life, showing how financial hardship can cause people to become violent and sacrifice their humanity.
A common theme within dystopian literature is the idea of social class, and how it can be used as a means of control.
The characters of Squid Game come from all different walks of life, and the game is a way for them to move out of their financial hardship.
The story draws parallels between modern capitalism and how social classes function within society.
Books Like Squid Game
This story takes place in a future version of the United States of America, where a totalitarian government holds an annual game show whereupon a group of teenagers are put into an arena and forced to fight until only one survives.
The novel follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, a girl from an impoverished district who has some of the lowest odds of winning the game, who volunteers after her younger sister is picked for the games.
But this year’s Hunger Games are different from all that have come before it, with devastating consequences.
- Brutal and shocking dystopia which revolves around a game show.
- This book features iconic characters and great dystopian world-building.
- This is the first book in a trilogy that has captivated readers worldwide.
- YA subplot revolving around teenage relationships might not be the same kind of dark, gritty story that viewers of Squid Game enjoy.
Themes Similar To Squid Game: Social Class, Dystopia vs. Utopia, Wealth, Violence, and Power.
A big inspiration for both Squid Game and The Hunger Games series is Battle Royale by Koushun Takami.
This story sees a dystopian version of Japan, where the government occasionally puts forty-two high school students on an island and forces them to do battle until only one survives.
This novel follows each of the students in detail, sometimes flashing back to the past to show how the class looked before its unfortunate demise.
If you want a long, in-depth, character-focused dystopian novel then this is going to be a great choice for you.
- Dark and gritty future vision of Japan where students are pitted against one another.
- This book has some great character writing that will get you to know all of the class.
- An iconic novel that directly influenced Squid Game
- It is quite a long novel, with a lot of different narratives to keep track of and remember.
Themes Similar To Squid Game: Social Class, Government Control, Violence, and Wealth.
The Maze Runner is another example of dystopian fiction that follows the story of Thomas, who has woken up in the Lift with nothing but his name.
He soon finds himself forced to brave an ever-changing maze that seems endless in scope.
As the story unfolds, we begin to learn more about what this maze is, and the strange governmental forces behind it.
The Maze Runner is another YA survival novel that puts a cast of characters in a deadly and fantastical situation.
It was adapted into a movie series of the same name and is one of the most popular examples of dystopian fiction.
- A highly fantastical type of survival game that pits the cast of characters against a colossal, ever-changing maze.
- This novel has a great sense of mystery that is slowly revealed as you read.
- A big cast of characters with unique personalities and traits.
- Lacks some of the broader allegorical themes of something like Squid Game.
Themes Similar To Squid Game: Government, Mystery, Social Class, and Collaboration.
Another dark novel revolving around a death tournament, but this one has magic!
When the blood moon rises and the blood veil falls over the land, a new generation of families put forward champions who are forced to compete in a violent tournament for the chance to control magic.
What unfolds is a dark, gritty novel that follows a cast of characters each vying to win the tournament for their families.
This is a novel that will captivate you with its shocking plot involving ambition and magic.
- This novel features a unique setting with great world-building.
- Includes a cool magic system that links to the tournament presented.
- Sharp, punchy writing that will hook you from the very first page.
- Less of a dystopian tournament, and more of a dark fantasy thriller.
Themes Similar To Squid Game: Power, Wealth, Families, Collaboration, and Social Class.
If there is one dystopian, game-show novel that started it all, then it would have to be The Long Walk by legendary American author Stephen King.
This is one of the ‘Bachman Books,’ a series of novels and novellas he wrote under a pseudonym.
These stories are thought to be darker and bleaker than his other works, and The Long Walk is a great example of this.
This novel follows the story of Ray Garraty, a teenage boy who is competing in a game known as The Long Walk.
One hundred boys are put on a road and forced to walk until only one remains. If they stop once, they are warned.
If they stop twice, they are warned again. If they stop for a third time, they are shot and removed from the game.
As the walk begins, Ray Garraty is forced to give everything he has to survive, amidst other contestants who are more than willing to do anything it takes to win.
- Captivating writing from one of America’s finest novelists.
- Realistic characters that will have you intrigued to learn more.
- One of the original game-show, dystopian novels.
- Lacks some of the modern meta-commentary that you’ll find in Squid Game.
Themes Similar To Squid Game: Social Class, Government, Power, and Social Class.
So that was our list of 5 books that you can get into that are similar to Squid Game.
Although there’s no novel that Squid Game was inspired by, you can tell that it drew lots of inspiration from what has come before.
If you’re looking for something that echoes the game-show elements of the Netflix series, then we’d recommend going for something like The Long Walk, The Hunger Games, or Battle Royale.
If you want something that focuses more on social class and strange dystopian futures, you should check out All Us Villains or The Maze Runner.
We hope that this article has helped you to decide on your next gripping read to tide you over until the next gripping Netflix show comes to your screen!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Dystopian Novel?
Dystopian novels refer to a genre of novels set in future visions of the world. These usually include governments that have taken control and rule with fear and/or tyranny.
Is There A Squid Game Season 2?
Squid Game has recently been green-lit for a second season. This means we’ll get to see what happens after the events of the first game show.